County Commission Proposes Savannah Budget Cut

The fight for what will be on the penny sales tax ballot in Chatham County is really heating up. A new proposal, which drastically changes things is now in the mix, and commissioners are busy battling for what projects should be included. The new proposal cuts the amount of money the City of Savannah receives by more than $30 million. They say they can't live with that.

At a workshop on Wednesday, Chairman Billy Hair proposed the city receive $95 million, a drastic cut from the $161 million the city originally wanted for roads, drainage and special projects. Now there's a counter proposal. Commissioner Jeff Rayno says the city should only receive $60 million, so more county-wide projects can be accomplished.

"I think the proposal addresses those, perhaps at the expense of the city a little, but the city will benefit from the overall program," he said.

Mayor Floyd Adams says this new proposal will not even cover the necessary roads and drainage projects which is the main purpose of the penny sales tax.

"No, our drainage proposal comes to $51 million, so we wouldn't have to do anything else, we'd have to cut a lot of things out," he said.

But some commissioners agree this proposal addresses more county projects, like sheltered bus stops, money for the library and the aquatic center and funding up front for a diversion center to help stop crowding the jail.

"There's a couple of things in there I think are good, and I think I can adjust my budget to take into account," Chairman Hair said. "But cutting the City of Savannah by $35 million is not going to fly, not going to get votes to do that."

WTOC just obtained a copy of Hair's new proposal, which does include funding for the county items as well as keeping the city's budget at $95 million dollars. The county is expected to vote on what will be on the ballot at a special meeting next Friday.

Reported by: Kim Angelastro,